Noted activist to challenge petition seeking abrogation of Article 35A

SRINAGAR: Noted trade union leader Sampat Prakash Kundu will, in the first week of September, challenge a petition demanding abrogation of Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, which allows J&K state to grant special privileges and rights to its permanent residents.
The petition has been filed by a Delhi-based think tank believed to be close the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological patron of India’s ruling party, BJP, and other rightwing Hindu organizations.
A few days ago, the Supreme Court of India asked the state government to file its objections to the petition by the first week of November this year.
Prakash, the state president of JK Pensioners’ Welfare Association told Kashmir Reader that he will challenge the petition through eminent lawyers Prashant Bhushan and Nandita Haksar.
Prakash recalled how he had challenged his detention under Indian Prevention Act in 1964, arguing that the Act was not applicable to the state and an Indian law cannot be implemented in J&K because of Article 35A. The Supreme Court had upheld his plea.
“First, five judges heard the plea. Then 13 judges unanimously ruled in favour of my plea and upheld the sanctity of Article 35A,” he said.
Kashmiris were arbitrarily arrested under this law, but that stopped after the SC ruling, Prakash said.
“The writ petition should not have been accepted in the first place because the court in its earlier decision has made it clear that the relation between India and JK is because of Article 35A and 370. So there was no point accepting it now,” Prakash said.
Originally hailing from Rainawari in old Srinagar, Prakash has served eight years in jail under different cases and was dismissed from government job on direct orders of the Indian president in 1964. Only in 1990 was the dismissal revoked.
Recently, the state high court observed that Article 35A of the Constitution of India was only a “clarificatory provision” and held that citizens of J&K have their own constitution and sovereign character “which cannot be challenged, altered or abridged,” an observation echoed by Prakash.